Willie McCulloch
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Willie McCulloch

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"Green Man Review"

Review from "The Green Man Review"


Willie McCulloch, Auld Tales & New (Own release, 2005)

I get to listen to and review literally hundreds of albums each year. It would be easy to just gloss over albums from performers I have never heard of before or maybe am not familiar with, but every now and again you put one of these albums on to play, and it makes you sit up and take notice. This is one such album.

It's true what they say, "You can take the man out of Scotland, but ye'll never take the Scot out of the man". Willie McCulloch is one such man. Originally from Fife in Scotland, these days he lives in Bridgewater, Connecticut, U.S.A. This fact alone settled my curiosity over his accent and some of the words in his songs; life in Connecticut seems to have rubbed off on him. Nothing wrong with that, for his mid-Atlantic Scottish accent makes it all the easier to understand the lyrics.

To some extent, this is truly an amazing piece of recording, mainly because not only are the songs outstandingly good, they have all the sound and flavour of a recording originating in Scotland. Willie is a talented multi-instrumentalist, and he is a damn good singer as well. I was impressed by the album and by the quality of the vocal harmony, which put me in mind of The McCalmans, so I wondered why I had never heard of Willie and his band before. How could something this good get through the net without being noticed? It transpired that on top of all the instrumentation being played by Willie, he did all the vocals and harmonies as well. It seems that living in Connecticut he couldn't find any other like-minded musicians - so he did it all himself. Willie has written all but one of the songs on this album. The net result may be a little unorthodox, but it really is outstanding.

As you can imagine, Willie has taken the subject matter for his songs from life in Scotland and his visits to Ireland. So you can file this one firmly under Celtic song. I received a very early 'press copy' of the album, which is very sparse on information and song notes, but not to worry, because when I put the album on and hit play, my juices started to run straightaway. The instrumentation is kept to barest minimum and is very tastefully done to allow the melody of the tune and the words to carry the songs. Indeed, the album starts with a Capella song 'Kylenagranagh', which is augmented by harmonies. It sets the tone for the rest of the album nicely and is followed by 'Outer Hebrides', 'Wee Jimmy Lowrie', 'Haul Awa' Lads' and 'Fender Bay', all of which can be classed as sea songs. A change of tone is next with 'Seafield Coal', a song about the early days in a coalmine that stretches out beneath the sea.

To add even more variation, there is a cracking good song called 'The Story of Burke & Hare' about the infamous grave robbers in Edinburgh.

After 'Swing William Swing' about William Wallace and 'Deep Water', the album finishes with 'Broken Hearts in Ireland' another song touching on the Irish Troubles. It is hard to pick just one song as the best on the album, so my vote goes to 'Outer Hebrides', 'Wee Jimmy Lowrie' and 'Seafield Coal'. All the songs are contemporary, but if you are a traditional fan don't be put off, for they are sung and presented in a neo-traditional style.

Conclusion: this is an album brimming full of songs that are just begging to be sung, and should be popular with any professional folk singer or, for that matter, a band looking for new material. I've got my eye on one or two! So if you have a passion for excellent folk song with a taste of Scotland, this one's for you.

[Peter Massey]
The Green Man Review

- The Green Man

"Celtic Music Review"

A Review of the Wille McCulloch CD
"Auld Tales & New"

"Auld Tales & New
by Willie McCulloch
Willie McCulloch
68 Hut Hill Road
Bridgewater, CT 06752
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 8/05
"Kevin's Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"

Want to hear someone who is writing original 'traditional' songs today?

Want to hear a voice that could melt, heaven help us, even Maggie Thatcher's heart?

Want to be musically transported back to olde Scotland without the discomfort of airline flight and food?

Look no further than Willie McCulloch, formerly of Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland and now of Bridgewater in the Nutmeg State.

McCulloch has been working in the music industry for some time now, and is yet another example of an ample talent simply lacking the exposure provided to some of those questionable 'artists' parading on MTV and VH-1.

With a release here laden with melodious remembrances, McCulloch at last may just find himself smiled upon by the gods and goddesses of the music underworld.

He opens with "Kylenagranagh" a moving lament of personal loss, strikingly performed a cappella.

Quietly evocative, "Outer Hebrides," the first of many cuts featuring the fishing life, is next. "Wee Jimmy Lowrie" celebrates such, with a nod to the Vikings for this sea-going lineage. "Haul Awa' Lads" is a whaling song that questions the loss of human and animal life. Taking the listener from a childhood learning to fish under a father's tutelage to the extinction of such a livelihood and the need to depart for work elsewhere, is the arc of "Fender Bay." McCulloch supplies a most enjoyable chorus here.

"Hidden In The Shadows" changes the theme. It is an ode to Rosslyn, a chapel founded in 1446, that is still in use outside of Edinburgh.

"Seafield Coal," about entering the miner's life as a very young child, is reminiscent of "Schooldays Over," made most famous by Ewan McColl.

Full of Scottish history with mention of Holyrood, Arthur's Seat, John Knox, William Wallace and the Royal Mile in "The Powers That Be," McCulloch writes of savoring, saving and lamenting parts of the past.

"The Finest Of Years," "A Sky Lullaby" and "Deep Water" all return to the sailing motif. The first two are lullabies, while the latter details the lure of mystical sea creatures.

He closes with "Broken Hearts In Ireland" referring to "the troubles" that have plagued the Emerald Isle for centuries.

McCulloch retains elements of his charming Scottish accent, but the listener need not be concerned--his lyrics are easily understandable. He displays the underappreciated but marvelous ability to capture a point of time in the past and breath melodious new life into it.

This release is highly recommended.

McCulloch sings lead and harmony vocals, in addition to playing acoustic and electric guitar, bass, flute, harmonica, banjo, mandolin and penny whistle.

Track List:

Kylenagranagh (1:41)
Outer Hebrides (2:24)
Wee Jimmy Lowrie (2:57)
Haul Awa' Lads (3:45)
Fender Bay (3:31) Willie McCulloch & Alex O'Brien

Hidden In The Shadows (3:32)
Seafield Coal (3:20)
The Powers That Be (2:45)
The Finest Of Years (3:12)
Skye Lullabye (3:10)
Deep Water (2:52)
Broken Hearts In Ireland (3:39)

All songs by Wille McCulloch, except as noted.

Ownership, copyright and title of this celtic music CD review belongs to me, Kevin McCarthy. Ownership, copyright and title are not transferrable or assignable to you or other parties regardless of how or if you or other parties use, copy, save, backup, store, retrieve, transmit, display, publish, modify or share the CD review in whole or in part. Please read the "Terms, Conditions and Disclaimers" section on my web site for addititonal information about using, quoting, or reprinting this CD review.

Send inquiries to: celticfolkmusic@icogitate.com.

- Kevin McCarthy

"A Review of Willie's McCulloch's Auld Tales & New"

http://www.icogitate.com/~celticfolkmusic/cr-WillieMcCulloch.htm - Kevin McCarthy


Multi-Award winning songwriter.
Song cut by Chris LeDoux, Capital Nashville Label, on the "HorsePower" album.
Currently scoring 2 Indy films.
Songs on hold for films in the UK, Ireland



Willie is an award winning songwriter who started his professional music career touring his native Scotland with the band “Legal Tender”. Influenced by the best of the 70s melodic songwriting and tight harmonies that seem to have been shoved aside in the edgy grunge movement of the 90s, Willie’s songs focus on recapturing the warmth of honesty of back-to-basics organic songs that move you.